Why Again Would a Golf Course Bring Wealth to Southern Dallas?

Breaking down the Morning News' cargo-cult approach to economic development.

The official BLS definition of "not in the labor force" is this: "Includes persons aged 16 years and older in the civilian noninstitutional population who are neither employed nor unemployed in accordance with the definitions contained in this glossary. Information is collected on their desire for and availability for work, job search activity in the prior year, and reasons for not currently searching."

But let's do this maybe an easier way. I just randomly selected a census tract up around Arapaho and Plano roads in suburban Richardson and looked at how many people up there are "not in the labor force." It's 15.2 percent.

Should we dwell on that number — the "not in the labor force" one? I assume everybody will want to start talking about race right away. OK. The area we're talking about around the future golf course is substantially whiter than the city at large and a tad less black.

Jared Boggess


Email the author at jim.schutze@dallasobserver.com.

The census says Dallas is now about 50.7 percent white. The tracts we are talking about are 57.88 percent white. Dallas is 25 percent black. The area around the golf course is just under that, at 24.15 percent black.

We don't know who's not working. Here is what we can say. One hell of a lot of people in this area are not working now, have never worked and probably will never work.

The area is bitingly poor. I assume most of us will see a correlation between never working and being poor. From there we may diverge. Whose fault is it that 5,000 souls in this area are "not in the labor force?" We could pull up chairs, get some pitchers of iced tea and a fan and sit here and argue that one all night long if you like.

But this is what I want to know first. What earthly good will a golf course do? The Morning News is calling the proposed golf course a "tipping point" and a "game-changer" for southern Dallas: "Something big needed to happen — a top-quality attraction that would lure residents on a mass scale away from their northern havens and into the heart of southern Dallas," the paper said in a recent editorial. "As [Dallas Mayor Mike] Rawlings notes, it'll help change the mentality of southern Dallas as a 'charity case' and instead get people to recognize the huge investment opportunities there."

Really? Tell me how that will work. Just tell me. I don't have anything against the golf course. They're saying it won't cost the city any new money and the private sector will have to raise the bulk of the cost of building it. I don't know why the city would give away land to a private club, but that's not my big sticking point.

I want to know how establishing an expensive golf course in a very isolated area surrounded by largely impenetrable flood-zone and forest will cause wealth to occur in nearby neighborhoods. Obviously, even if the golf course does very well and signs up a ton of wealthy members, they won't need 5,000 caddies. When they do hire caddies I doubt they will sign up too many applicants whose résumés are completely blank. And how wealthy are caddies?

This isn't really how the world works, is it? Prosperity is not a cargo that appears on the beach when the Kennedys show up in their ship looking for a place to play golf. It really does take more than that.

I ask, because there is something in the Morning News view of things here that seems eerily consonant with their entire approach to southern Dallas. We have, for example, the ad nauseum finger-wagging campaign they keep flogging on their editorial page, called "Ten Drops in the Bucket," in which they list distressed and trashy properties in southern Dallas and insist that someone clean them up.

Again, I think these are absolutely sincere expressions of concern, but the central message always seems to be, "Stay where you are but dress up like us, make your lawns look more like our lawns, and cargo shall come to you."

Now we have this even stranger iteration of the cargo cult: "We shall cause rich golfers to drive on highways within a mile of your neighborhoods, and their richness shall fan out somehow, and soon you will no longer be 'not in the labor force.'"

They say the Byron Nelson golf tournament may come to it. Yeah, maybe. I'll start taking them seriously when they tell me the Kennedys are coming.

« Previous Page
My Voice Nation Help

Building an exclusive golf course goes right along with the band-aid of now calling that area "southern" Dallas. We have North Dallas, East Dallas, West Dallas, and a few years back someone at Belo decided we should all start calling it "Southern" Dallas. What gives? Are things going to change for the better just because we added a few extra letters to South Dallas? We're going to have to do a lot more than prettify its name and build a golf course no one can afford if we're really serious about improving things in South Dallas.


It's gonna work out perfectly.  All those hotel rooms close by, ready to go. Just another 'city that works' Project Clueless.


I don't know what is more troubling...the 1000 contaminated super secret sand traps in this deal, or the bucket loads of horse crap coming from City Hall supporters about the Horse Park.

Montemalone topcommenter

You've nailed it with the highway location, somewhat.

Central runs alongside Park Cities and very close to Preston Hollow.

Dallas CC is full and it's hard to get in. Brookhollow, same thing.

These folks in HP/UP/PH need a club that's taking members, that's easily accessible.

Hop on 75, head south 10 minutes, voila!

Easy access, already has a moat around it to keep the riff-raff away.

Problem solved.

PatrickWilliams moderator

@positiverunner Actually, that's an old newspaper convention that we share with the Morning News: South Dallas is a specific neighborhood with well-defined boundaries around Fair Park. Or so I was told by a former daily cop reporter-turned editor when I moved to Dallas 15 years ago. So it's improper here to refer to all of southern Dallas as South Dallas, and AP style says don't capitalize words like southern. It's confusing to those who don't realize that South Dallas means something other than "that part of the city down there generally," but it's not a deliberate effort to disguise anything.